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November 8th, 2016
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Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
I can’t even begin to describe how much I absolutely loved this novel. I was blown away from page one. As soon as the book opens, with Catherine baking and conversing with the Cheshire Cat, I knew it was going to be an absolute win. It felt like watching the Disney movie or reading Lewis Carroll’s original story. I’m not even that huge of an Alice fan but I immediately fell into the nostalgia of these stories. Marissa takes the world that we’ve gotten to know in the original book and the movie and just blows it to pieces. She widens its, makes it breathe and live in every single page and makes it sound like the most wonderful and yet most awful place. So much good and so much bad, just the way Alice felt when she fell down the rabbit hole.
Catherine is just a fantastic character and even though you know her fate, you have a really hard time believing that this is the girl that could become that queen. She’s young and bright, clever, talented and hopeful. She tries so hard to please everyone while at the same time, trying so hard to find her own place in the world, one that she can forge herself. Even though you know that her fate has already been decided, this being a prequel and all that, it is so hard not to root for her, to hope so hard that she can open her bakery and live happily ever after with Jest, and this is what keeps you reading from beginning to end, that hope. I fell madly in love with Catherine as a character and I wanted so badly for her to get everything she desired and I had to know what could have changed this sweet girl to make her the harsh Queen of Hearts.
The only downfall I would say about the story is that you already know the end. You know that Catherine becomes the Queen of Hearts, therefore marrying the King of Hearts. You know, no matter what happens, this is what is going to happen. Its like watching Titanic; no matter how much you wish you could change that ending, you just can’t. The ship sinks. But I don’t think that it necessarily changes the fact that it is such a great story. Even knowing the end, I was compelled by the beautiful picture that Marissa painted with her words. She creates this beautiful fantasy world in Hearts and she makes all of our favorite characters come to life and she surprises us at every turn, taking things we know so well and twisting them and I think that is what makes her so good at these fairy tale retellings. She’s so good at both bowing to them and also taking them and forming them to her own will and it just ends up in a fantastic, fantastic story.
This book doesn’t release until November but I’m already counting down the days until I can get my hands on a gorgeous finished copy because it was an absolutely fabulous book. Marissa really outdid herself with this one. She wrote a romance and a tragedy and a fantasy and just an all around quick and witty and clever novel that I really think audiences are going to LOVE this coming fall.
5 out of 5 stars